A REVIEW OF DR. SARNO'S VIDEO LECTURE ON THE MINDBODY PRESCRIPTION About the best explanation of TMS (Tension Myositis Syndrome), what causes it, who gets it and why, and techniques for healing are all in a video lecture by Dr. John E. Sarno, M.D. of his book The Mindbody Prescription, Healing the Body, Healing the Pain. It is no longer available on the Internet because of copyright restrictions, so I have written this review at the request of Forest, the host of the TMSWiki. Fortunately, there are other Dr. Sarno videos available free on YouTube including the Dr. Sarno 20/20 television interview. In a word, the video lecture on The Mindbody Prescription is fantastic!. It is a 2-hour lecture with a doctor who is the closest to the friendly, caring doctor who used to make house calls years ago when I was a boy. But Dr. Sarno has a new theory on what causes our back, neck, shoulder, arm, leg, headaches, migraines, fibromyalgia, or other pain. If a medical examination shows no structural damage, the pain is not caused by a herniated disc or anything else physical. The pain is caused by one or more of our repressed emotions, often going back to our childhood. It also may be caused by a perfectionist personality or a “goodist” nature in which a person overdoes wanting to help others or be liked by everyone. Also, even if some structural damage is said to be present, it may not cause pain. Dr. Sarno says most pain we feel is because of rage inside of us. People may say they aren’t angry about anyone or anything, and certainly are not in a rage, which he says is anger accumulated over the years. The good doctor says our conscious mind may not be aware of any anger or rage we feel, but our unconscious mind knows we have it. The doctor’s lecture is held before a group of about a dozen seated men and women. They all have pains such as those mentioned above, and most of them say their doctor examined them but found nothing wrong with them. “Then,” they ask, “why am I in pain?” Some says the pain is excruciating and chronic. In the first part of his lecture, Dr. Sarno explains the physical process of the pain. He asserts that the pain is not caused by any structural abnormality, but it is psychological. The pain we feel is called TMS which stands for Tension Myositis Syndrome, coming from emotions repressed in the unconscious mind. TMS is a painful condition in muscles of the back, neck, shoulders, and buttocks that may also involve spinal nerves and their branches up the trunk to the legs, knees, arms, chest, and a variety of tendons. The pain is because of reduced blood flow to a part of the body because of mild oxygen deprivation which causes muscle pain, nerve pain, numbness, tingling, weakness, or loss of reflex as well as tendon pain. The pain is very real, not imagined. But it is not caused by any structural abnormality. It is caused by repressed emotions. Some of those listening to the lecture ask why their pain comes only or mainly when they sit at the computer, or when they walk or stand. Dr. Sarno says that is because we tend to associate pain with one or more of those activities. We have conditioned ourselves to think that when we sit, walk, stand, exercise, or play tennis or basketball we will experience pain. The activity does not cause the pain, we have just programmed our minds to believe that. We need to de-program out minds that we will no longer associate any activity with being in pain. The unconscious mind wants us to associate our pain with something physical, but its cause is really psychological, from repressed emotions. In Part Two of his lecture, Dr. Sarno explains who gets TMS and why they get it. TMS can come to anyone just about anytime no matter their age or physical condition. It can show up as musculoskeletal pain disorders that many doctors often lump together into one term: fibromyalgia. There really is no such ailment. It is merely what many doctors call any pain a patient, more women than men, say they feel in their body when medical examinations find no muscular abnormality. Structural abnormalities are also liable to be blamed for pain. These can include spinal stinosis, arthritis of the hip joint, rotator cuff wear and tear, and minor tears of the knee cap. These are just normal aging changes which Dr. Sarno calls “gray hairs of the spine.” Gray hair as we age does not cause pain. Neither does arthritis of the hip, which he says is not a painful disorder like rheumatoid arthritis which does require medical attention. TMS can cause pain, both severe and chronic. Yet, there is nothing actually wrong with the person’s back, arms, legs, or other part of the body. “Many of the structural abnormalities my patients have could not cause the amount of pain they are in,” says Dr. Sarno. “And the pain caused by TMS repressed emotions does no damage to the body.” We may think we’re injuring our back more if we walk, sit, bend over, or exercise, but we are not. Our activities do not cause any structural, muscular, or nerve damage. It is important to resume normal activity. A woman attending the lecture said her wrists hurt when she sits at the computer for any length of time. A man said his sister complains that her hands hurt when she plays the piano. They said doctors diagnosed such pains as carpal tunnel syndrome. Dr. Sarno says there is no such thing. He says it’s a mindbody disorder that has spread in an epidemic fashion. It’s the “pain flavor” of the month, year, decade. It’s not caused by overuse of the hands or wrists while at the computer or playing the piano or guitar. It’s from our repressed emotions. It’s the same with so-called “whiplash.” Our head may get thrown back if the car we’re in is struck from behind by another car. It’s common today to feel pain afterward in the neck or shoulder, but in doing some research, it has been learned that “whiplash” pain may be common in the United States, but doctors in other countries such as Lithuania never get patients who complain of “whiplash” pain. They never even heard of it in many other countries. I was really surprised to learn from Dr. Sarno’s video how many physical and emotional ailments or pain are really not caused by any structural damage or aging but by TMS repressed emotions. Here is a list of the most common of these: Skin conditions such as acne, eczema, and hives. A friend had hives on his honeymoon because he had been anxious on the wedding day. Another friend’s son had a bad case of acne shortly after his parents divorced. Cardiac palpitations. Dr. Sarno says this is very common and normal. Allergies such as hay fever, dust, and mold. The unconscious brain is using our immune system to give us these allergies so we will discover the repressed emotions causing them. Frequent infections such as urinary tract and vaginal yeast infections and head or chest colds. I used to get a cold every week or two until I quit the job I hated. That was forty years ago and I can’t remember having a cold since the day I quit. Other ailments caused by emotional tension and stress because of repressed emotions are heartburn, ulcers, colitis, constipation, dizziness, and tinnitus (ringing in the ears). Dr. Sarno shows a chart that explain where the rage that is in our unconscious mind comes from. Anger that builds into unconscious rage can begin in our infancy and increase in our childhood. It can come from physical, psychological, or sexual abuse, rejection, poor parenting that can result in feelings of neglect or pressure to behave or perform to their high expectations, feelings of guilt or shame and inferiority. Rage in the unconscious mind also comes from our personality traits. These can be from perfectionism, compulsiveness, or being self-critical. Also, a desire or drive to be extra-good which can lead to a compulsion to please, a need for approval from others, or to do things for others. The latter is common among those who care caretakers, especially grown siblings who care for their aging parents but never feel they have done enough for them, especially after the parent dies. These are all self-imposed pressures that register in the unconscious mind and it sends us pain so we can deal with the problems that we may be repressing. The good thing, says Dr. Sarno, is that we don’t even have to resolve the problem. We just have to recognize that it is one we are repressing and by that act alone, our unconscious mind stops the pain. But if we can forgive and forget, so much the better. Realities of life also cause us pain because of TMS repressed emotions. These include our work, financial worries, family or friend or romantic relationships, arrival of a new baby in one’s life, care for children or elderly parents, and fear of aging and mortality. These can all be enraging to our inner self. Psychological equivalents of TMS pain include anxiety and panic attacks which are acute anxiety, depression, phobias including agoraphobia, obsessive-compulsive disorders, eating disorders, and chronic fatigue syndrome. What does it take to get over these symptoms? Dr. Sarno says we have to make our conscious mind aware of the rage that our subconscious mind feels. Then the unconscious mind believes the pain it sends to us is no longer necessary. We have made peace with ourselves and our present and past bad emotions. Dr. Sarno calls learning about the repressed rage and the reasons for it “Knowledge Penicillin.” What can we do to relieve our pain through TMS? Dr. Sarno suggests three steps to do this: 1. Repudiate the structural diagnosis and believe you do not have a physical problem. Believe your back is normal. 2. Acknowledge what is going on in you psychologically. 3. Accept the logic of the psychology that this is normal. I especially found helpful some tips Dr. Sarno then gave in his lecture on how to heal from pain caused by TMS repressed emotions: 1. Focus on the psychological, not the physical. Don’t think about the pain. 2. Think about the emotions that could have caused it. 3. Talk to your brain. Tell your unconscious that you know it is giving you pain because of repressed emotions and that you are thinking about what they could be. Talk either friendly or yell at your unconscious, whichever you choose. 4. Make a written list of the pressures or stresses you are under. Put at the top of the list your personality characteristics. They will be the most important of the pressures you are putting on yourself. 5. Follow the TMS healing techniques in his and other books on TMS. In Dr. Sarno’s book, Healing Back Pain, they are the 12 Daily Reminders on page 82. Repeat them a few times daily. Repetition is important in helping to re-program the conscious mind. The steps also can be found in web sites about the doctor and his book. 6. Resume normal physical activity such as working at home or a workplace out of the house. Do the house chores such as cooking, cleaning, despite any pain. See to the needs of children or adults if care giving. 7. It’s okay to do moderate exercise even if it is somewhat painful. Start slowly, exercising a little at a time. Wait until the pain is almost gone before doing more heavy physical exercise. 8. Believe you are going to cure yourself. You cannot hurt yourself. 9. Set aside a half-hour to an hour each day to read and think about your personality and other causes of anger. 10. If pain is severe, it’s okay to use some pain-killing medication because it can reduce the pain so you can concentrate on TMS healing. But do not use any anti-inflammatory drugs or tranquilizers. They can take away your belief that your pain is not structural but psychological. 11. Don’t expect to be pain-free immediately. Most people will be cured in three to four weeks of practicing TMS healing. For others it can take two to three months, or longer if no significant healing is achieved and a person needs to consult a TMS-trained doctor. Try not to focus on how long it takes to heal. 12. You don’t have to change your personality to get better, nor do you have to change your lifestyle. TMS knowledge is what it takes to get better. It only takes some adjusting to your personality and lifestyle and achieving perspective such as from putting yourself in the other person's shoes. 13. Discard all fears, such as fear of having a structural abnormality like a herniated disc, fear or injuring yourself while doing any normal activity involving standing, walking, sitting, or engaging in any moderate exercise. Dr. Sarno concludes his lecture by emphasizing that the person in pain must not be concerned or intimidated by it. “Becoming pain-free is all about shifting your attention from the physical pain to the emotional issues causing it. The process takes time, so be patient and work at it daily, then you will heal.” It’s a new way for most people to recover from pain. Many doctors who practice traditional ways of dealing with patients’ pain still rely on medication or surgery, but a growing number, especially young doctors, are becoming followers of Dr. Sarno’s belief in TMS healing. As I said at the start of this review, this video is no longer available on the Internet, but others are on YouTube in which Dr. Sarno explains much of what was in this interview.